If you’ve purchased anything — literally anything — from a Gamestop over the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly been subjected to a lengthy sales pitch about the benefits of the company’s PowerUp Rewards program. For just a few dollars more, the eager teenaged salesperson claims, you’ll gain access to an exclusive club that can partake in the best deals, huge savings and a number of other offers that are dubiously useful. Well now the company has one more bullet point to add to the pitch: PowerUp Rewards members are henceforth the only people who might possibly be able to pre-order a Wii U console from the retail chain, assuming you’re willing to drop your name onto a waiting list of unknown length.
In a press release issued earlier today, Gamestop president Tony Bartel claimed that interest in Nintendo’s next console has been unprecedented, and that this waiting list scheme is the only way the store can hope to keep up with demand (or, more accurately, temper consumer expectations in the face of imminent hardware shortages). “Demand for Wii U has been off the charts and we know many of our PowerUp Rewards members are anxious to get their hands on one,” Bartel said. “We’re happy to offer our customers this exclusive opportunity to join the wait list for this must-have item.”
As we reported a few days ago, Gamestop had stopped taking pre-orders on the $350 Deluxe version of the console, though at the time it still seemed as if the company would be able to field all orders for the more basic models of the system. That is no longer the case, but Gamestop’s press release helpfully points out that those of you who are already PowerUp Rewards members can visit any Gamestop location and ask to have your name added to the waiting list without any monetary deposit required. According to the release, the store will then issue an automated phone call whenever your console comes available. That said, there is no firm window on when that might happen, or as the press release puts it, “enrolling does not guarantee a Wii U on or by a specified date or at a specific price.”
Currently it is unknown if those desperate for a Wii U pre-order can create a new PowerUp Rewards account specifically to add their name to the waiting list, but we are attempting to contact Gamestop’s representatives and will update this piece once we hear some solid confirmation one way or the other. In the meantime, we suggest pre-ordering the system at a retailer with a bit more market clout. Wal*Mart, for instance. If anyone can ensure people get the next hot gaming system on time, it would be the world’s largest retail chain.